White House unveils plan to recruit truck drivers

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Biden administration launches multi-faceted industry partnering program that aims to expand trucking recruiting efforts through various efforts and increase the attractiveness of what a senior administration official described as “strong and well-paying careers”.

The Biden-Harris Trucking Action Plan emphasizes, among other things, apprenticeship programs like the one that was included in the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill approved by Congress in November, as well as increased efforts to recruit former military personnel for careers in trucking.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh held a White House meeting on December 16 with transportation stakeholders to discuss the details of the plan.

Pete Buttigieg (left) and Marty Walsh at an infrastructure event in May visiting the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge in Washington, DC (Al Drago / Bloomberg News)

“It is clear that we need more truckers to transport the historic volume of goods passing through our economy,” said an official. “Growing our trucking workforce will require investments in training, safety and job quality to improve recruitment, retention and productivity. Our trucking action plan demonstrates our commitment to forging partnerships between workers, industry and others.

A key focus is encouraging veterans to view trucking as a post-military career.

“Each year, approximately 200,000 service members transition to civilian life, and over the past five years, 70,000 veterans have left the service with military trucking experience,” an official said. “This is an incredible opportunity to do good for our Veterans and strengthen the trucking workforce at the same time to ensure that there are transparent paths to these opportunities for our Veterans. The trucking industry has already taken some very important steps to put veterans in touch with good jobs, but there is certainly more we can do.

As part of the initiative, the Department of Labor, through its Veterans Employment and Training Service program, will work with the private sector to encourage veterans to consider positions in the trucking industry an once they have left military service.

The plan also calls for standardization of rules between states to help veterans obtain commercial driver’s licenses and receive credit for their military experience.

“We are working hard with states to streamline the CDL process to reduce the time it takes to take your test and obtain your license,” said another senior administration official. “We are providing states with toolkits, strategies they can use to achieve these important results. We will also, before the end of the year, offer funding opportunities in the form of grants to states so that they can improve the IT infrastructure, which will also improve the licensing process.

The program also aims to significantly increase the number of apprenticeship programs suitable for training 18, 19 and 20 year old drivers.

Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included wording for the DRIVE Safe Act, which creates a training program to enable drivers under the age of 21 to obtain CDLs and participate in interstate commerce, which was previously prohibited. by the law. Participants would undergo extensive training and a mentoring program before driving on their own.

Although this program has a continuing enrollment of 3,000 participants, an administration official said apprenticeship programs can help attract more entrants into trucking.

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“Apprenticeship is already the benchmark for workforce training in a number of industries, as apprentices earn by learning, rather than simply having to pay or go into debt for training,” he said. said a senior administration official. “They get real experience. Something that we have seen in the trucking industry that is essential for hiring and the talent pool is not just the credentials in a commercial driver’s license, but the actual driving experience as a driver. ‘jobs. Through apprenticeship, a pool of new drivers will emerge linked to a good job and a career.

The official said there are currently at least 10,000 apprenticeships in trucking. The administration is announcing a 90-day learning challenge to encourage motor carriers to hire learner drivers while earning their CDL or taking training.

“Any employer who wants to get involved and be part of a registered partnership, we can help them launch a new program within 48 hours,” the manager said. “It’s an amazing and fast-paced process to put together a quality learning program. “

Earlier this year, American Trucking Associations chief economist Bob Costello said the trucking industry immediately needed at least 80,000 drivers to cope with the growing volume of freight, from departures to retired and drivers who decided to leave and pursue another career.

One official called the program the “ultimate public-private partnership”.

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